Sphinx Conditions

Submitted by Baker on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 16:31

Any one been up there?

I climbed the Sphinx yesterday (10/30) with my buddy Mark on a beautiful fall day.  The approach was sweet...we left the car at a leisurely 8:30am and we were at the col in a pleasant 1:45...no snow.  The traverse has some snow and some slabs but snow conditions are currently stable.  Be aware of the first big dump on the current wind slabs though! 

We climbed the line listed as the Earl-Trimble in Winter Dance...someone evidently climbed this route a few days prior to us as we found a couple screw holes...or maybe they were just somehow left over from last year!  A 65m pitch of great ice up to WI4.  Another 30m of ice with a short WI4 bulge led to 30m of snow.  We then escaped left via a zig-zaging WI3 pitch of sticky alpine ice for a full rope length.  A super short mixed step got us to snow and the summit slopes.  I think one could have gone straight up after the first 120m at a harder grade.  Thin WI5?  Sweet looking...not sure if it exits.  Anyone know about this line.  Perhaps this was the first ascent line as it is certainly the most aesthetic may to finish!

The pillar pitch on the Lowe route was just barely touching and looked climbable.  The second pitch was fat.

Also, the line between the Lowe route and the Earl-Trimble was in.  Good year for the Sphinx!

Standard view of the Lowe-Direct from the traverse...there is certainly ice but couldn't quite tell if it was good to go.


Now, It's been a few years, but I think what you describe is accurate to conditions we saw on this route as well:
Lowe direct looked super gnarly, and
Wet conditions during summer spring indicated that we
take esiest line up face!

longish traverse left to gain summit slopes is also in line with what we saw.

 Climbed the Lowe Route yesterday and the approach is good.  We skipped the WI5 pitch, it is Barely touching and looks difficult to say the least.  There is plenty of ice to climb but short screws were helpful.  Get out there before it snow.

Hey guys.  Just read the GNF avy report for the Sphinx and I guess I need a little guidance.  I get the impression that there is concern  about Wind Slabs on the NF Sphinx approach.  However I didn't see anything about a danger rating, or Stay Away or something like that. 

Any Opinions out there on this matter?  I'm guessing its a no go right now?   


Mark turned back because of the instability.  It's only been a few days so it's highly unlikely that the snowpack has gained any significant strength.  I would trust his expertise on this one.  Furthermore, the new snow that has fallen since will only have made matters worse.